Tonight's Latin Grammy award broadcast directly followed President Obama's remarks on immigration action. And from the start of the broadcast, performers made sure that issue, along with that of the missing Ayotzinapa students in Mexico, loomed large.
Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 kicked off the performance with a fiery performance of their song "El Aguante," a fist-pumping protest anthem disguised in the form of a drinking song. But they didn't let it ring out like a simple party-rock tune. Instead, frontman Residente took a moment to shout out, at the song's climax, "Ayotzinapa somos todos! Ayotzinapa somos todos! Que viva Mexico!"
This wasn't just lip service—the group has remained outspoken on the case of the missing Ayotzinapa students. Just two nights ago Fusion met up with them backstage to discuss it with them. Then, they urged the Mexican government to "just quit" entirely:
Meanwhile, the evening's host, Eugenio Derbez, addressed immigration action in his opening remarks. "It was time that Latinos' rights were recognized. "We stopped being the minority a long time ago. Latinos are already a part of this country, everyone!" He said in Spanish. "So what better way to celebrate this occasion than with music? Latinos have always used music to cross borders!"
Earlier in the evening, before the official broadcast, other winners also spoke on both issues in the press room, like Poncho Lizarraga of Banda el Recodo.
But the rest of the telecast ceremony, however, was largely apolitical. Derbez, nor anyone else except for Calle 13, did not address the missing students from Ayotzinapa onstage. Enrique Iglesias, speaking via satellite from Paris where he is on tour, said "this night is historic not just for all Latino artists but especially for Latinos living in the US," in allusion to Obama's executive action. Carlos Vives accepted his award for Best Tropical Album and after dedicating it to his country of Colombia, also dedicated it to Barack Obama.
In the press room, René Perez and Eduardo Cabra from Calle 13 answered journalists questions on why they chose to shout out the missing students in their performance, even though they're not from Mexico themselves.
"It's part of the work of an artist," said Perez in Spanish. "Goya during his dark period painted about war. It's not about politics it's about human rights. Even though we're Puerto Rican, what happens in other countries affects us, and we speak about it."
About the song "El Aguante," Perez added "It's a toast about putting up and surviving a lot of things but also about standing up and saying 'we've had enough. And [Ayotzinapa] is enough."
As part of their tour, Calle 13 is performing in Mexico City this weekend at Palacio de los Deportes, one of the biggest venues in the city.
Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.
Nuria Net is a founding editor at Fusion and now Social Storytelling Editor working on our Snapchat Discover channel. Co-founder, former editor-in-chief of Remezcla.com. Net is her real last name; Lechuga is her DJ name.